By Bevan Hamilton 
BELLEVILLE – The Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit  is close to being ready for staff to move in.
At the monthly board meeting on Wednesday, member James McBride said the move-in date for staff is scheduled for March 20, but the official opening to the public won’t be for a couple of months after that.
“There is going to be small deficiencies and things that are going to need to be cleaned up throughout the facility, so we want to put our best face on when we invite the public in,” said Terry McGuigan, chair of the board of health .
The board held a tour of the new facility at 179 North Park St. for members and media to view on Wednesday morning. McGuigan praised the new building.
McGuigan said in the old building – located immediately adjacent to the new one – confidentiality and the treatment of people was sometimes not as good as it could have been, but that won’t be the case anymore.
“In this facility, that’s almost guaranteed. People will be treated in a confidential manner and a safe and secure environment. It’s going to be a giant step forward for this community and for the long term.”
The building has many windows, which brings a lot of light in. McGuigan said that will help create a welcoming atmosphere for staff, but especially the clients they serve.
One of the reasons there was a need for a new building, he explained, was that the current one had “run its usefulness.” That infringed on the delivery of services and programs to the community, he said.
The furnishings from the old building, which will be torn down, will be given away to agencies in Belleville; McGuigan mentioned the Salvation Army and the women’s shelter in particular. A lot of the glass, walls and other materials in the old building will also be used for a good purpose, he said.
Before the demolition takes place, the OPP will be briefly using the old building, beginning in mid-April, for training purposes, McGuigan said.
The cost of the new building came in around $900,000 under the health unit’s budget of $12 million.